At LCWR's 2018 annual assembly, St. Joseph Sr. Jayne Helmlinger became president-elect. Speaking with GSR, Helmlinger said that while in leadership, she'll combine her community's charism — "Unity in Reconciliation" — with her "ability to think systemically." She told GSR she is eager to connect LCWR with the rest of the world and reimagine the conference to fit a globalized future.
GSR Today - The four days the Leadership Conference of Women Religious spent in St. Louis included a discussion of how to abolish the death penalty, reflections on diversity and asking hard questions about racist pasts, and a fidget spinner. Here are some more snippets we couldn't include in our full coverage of the assembly.
Women religious exist to seek justice as the light of Christ in a world of darkness, Sr. Anita Baird told those gathered for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious' annual assembly Aug. 10 as she received their 2018 Outstanding Leadership Award. "As the first African-American to receive this leadership award, you honor not only me, but every African-American woman religious as you bear witness to the fact that black religious life matters," she said. "It took until 1979 until the bishops finally acknowledged racism as a sin," Baird told GSR. "You've got to address systems and processes and policies."
On the final day of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly Aug. 10, sisters explored the diversity within the image of God and lessons for religious life, marched to the Old Courthouse in St. Louis and bore witness against systemic racism, and honored Daughter of the Heart of Mary Sr. Anita Baird, the first black recipient of LCWR's Outstanding Leadership Award.
"In the presence of constant and painful reminders of the deep roots of racism in our country, [LCWR pledges] to go deeper into the critical work of creating communion, examining the root causes of injustice and our own complicity, and purging ourselves, our communities, and our country of the sin of racism and its destructive effects."
As the Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly continued into its second day, keynote speakers developed the assembly theme of being the presence of love and the power of communion, raising issues of religious life governance, societal fragmentation and racial justice.
In her presidential address at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly, Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word Teresa Maya told attendees a " 'change of epoch' is upon us in full force." She specified sisters' challenges — leading as a community regardless of numbers, working with younger sisters and confronting institutional racism — and instructed them to reach beyond with "eyes of faith."
This week, Holy Cross Sr. Sharlet Wagner, an immigration lawyer who has lived in four countries, transitions from president-elect to president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. All who spoke to GSR about Wagner stressed her capacity to listen and take in all points of view.
Roughly 800 sisters in leadership in their respective communities will gather Aug. 7-10 in St. Louis to reflect on this year's theme, "Being the Presence of Love: The Power of Communion," picking up exactly where last year's meeting left off.
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